How To Measure And Use Keyword Difficulty For Better Ranking

Evaluate keyword difficulty before creating content.

You already have keywords in mind that you want to rank for. But do you know the level of the competition in those keywords? Before you create content on a keyword, it’s important to understand its keyword difficulty. This is especially true when you target keywords with high search volumes. 

What is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty(KD) is used to determine the level of competition for a specific term. When you do a competitor keyword analysis, you can decide whether or not it’s worth creating content on. You can determine if it’s worth bidding for, or you can optimize your page for that keyword to rank organically.

 Several factors determine the level of competition in a keyword. These include content quality,  domain authority, and page authority. The difficulty is also affected by the number and quality of page links to the keyword.

Why is Keyword Difficulty Important in Seo?

Keyword difficulty is an important part of the keyword research process. When combined with other factors, such as the monthly search volumes, it helps you choose the best keywords to target.

Keyword difficulty is an important SEO factor

If you target keywords that are easy to rank for, you will save time and money. On the other hand, if you only target keywords that are easy to rank for without checking their search volume, you will rank high but with no traffic. Keyword difficulty can help you find the sweet spot between the very competitive keywords that are hard to rank for and the low-competition keywords with little or no traffic. 

Challenges of Using Keyword Difficulty

One challenge with keyword difficulty is that different tools show different metrics. Even for exact keywords, they will show different difficulty levels. Therefore, analyzing keyword difficulty should be more than checking the numbers produced by a keyword research tool.

Factors Affecting the Keyword Difficulty

There are many tools out there that show the keyword difficulty. While each of these works uniquely, they are all based on Google ranking factors. However, there are certain factors that affect the keyword difficulty. These include:

One of the main factors that Google considers when ranking articles is backlinks. Google uses link profiles to analyze the quality of a webpage. When analyzing the keyword difficulty of the top SERP results, most tools check the number and quality of backlinks.

If there are high-ranking pages for the targeted keywords with a strong backlink profile, a keyword becomes harder to rank for. This is because Google assumes that only worthwhile sites and those with authority in the field are linked.

You will need to get as many backlinks as the currently top-ranking sites to rank on the first page of Google. To get an idea of the quality of the backlinks, you will need to do a manual check.

The number and quality of backlinks affect keyword difficulty

Domain Authority

There is a popular belief among SEO professionals that Google prefers pages belonging to big and popular sites. If you find these sites ranking at the top of SERPS, you should avoid such keywords. This is unless your site is also big and popular. 

When keyword research tools mention the domain authority, they usually consider the quality of content and its relevance. If a site posts high-quality content regularly, it’s considered an authority. However, it takes time to build domain authority.

When people see the results on SERPs, they prefer to click on sites they are familiar with. This can cause familiar brand names to be ranked higher, as this is what people want to see. While this may not necessarily be true, it can offer a sleek preview of the authority of the top-ranking sites.

Search Intent

Search intent is another factor that affects keyword difficulty. Sites that address the search query well often rank better on Google. For better Google ranking, you must understand the importance of search intent and address it well. You will need to evaluate whether the user intent of the query matches what you want to optimize for.

Other Metrics to Determine Keyword Difficulty

On top of the above factors, some SEOs have devised creative ways of analyzing the keyword difficulty. They look into metrics such as:

When you search for a phrase, the number of results on the first page with the exact results can indicate the keyword difficulty. If there are many such results, especially from high authority sites, it can be a sign that the keyword can be hard to rank for.

Intitle Search Operator

When you search with the “intitle” word, you tell Google to display pages with that keyword in the title. This search method can help you understand how many pages target that keyword. If there are only a few pages with the keyword in the title, it cna be an indication of less competition.

Inurl Search Operator

Another way to determine how many sites have the exact keywords in their urls is using “inurl” search operator. When you type “inurl” before the keyword, you will see the sites with that keyword in the url. Like the “intitle”, this can also show how many sites target that keyword.

Using Keyword Golden Ratio for Keyword Difficulty

The keyword golden ratio can help you find keywords with low KD. The ratio considers a keyword’s search volumes, competition, and relevance. Seo gurus suggest that if you find a phrase that complies with the keyword golden ratio, this should rank on the first  50 results within a few days.

The keyword golden ratio is the number of Google results with the keyword phrase divided by the monthly search volumes. However, the search volume should be less than 250. If the results are less than 0.25, it cna be a great keyword to target. If the result is between 0.25 and 1, it might work. If it’s more than 1, then this is a bad keyword to target.

Keyword difficulty shows how hard or easy it is to rank for a keyword

In Conclusion

The keyword difficulty is an important metric that can help you determine how hard or easy it is to rank for a particular keyword. You can then know the keyword phrases to target in your content. Using the above guidelines, you can easily find keywords with a low KD that are easy to rank for.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.